‘I have called you by name…’

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God has me on a path of unclarity lately.  Usually I have some sort of idea where I’m headed; perhaps not the whole portrait being revealed, but certainly at least a birds-eye view of the direction I’m going.  During this season, it’s as if I’m wearing blinders, earplugs, and beling led by a carousel horse, round and round and round.  Thankfully I have Him as my Foundation, the one thing that regardless if my horse jumps his rails, I can count on a landing.

So I’m working this job – not something I would have predicted if you’d asksed me a year ago, but a job nonetheless and I am appreciative.  It’s retail, and I do come from 10 years of retail experience B.C. (before children…lol!), but that’s practically antique in the work world these days.  Because of my experience, I was hired as a supervisor, which as you can imagine, didn’t go over well with some existing employees, whose average age hovers near 20 (mine is significantly higher than 20, if you recall…actually, I could be the parent to MANY of the employees at my job…oy vey!)

So I’ve been there over 6 months now, and each week has it’s ups and downs, be it customers and trying to stay one step ahead with lines they think are a bit too long, coupons that don’t scan correctly, Senior Discount Day (Lord, give me strength!!) or a lack of baggers OR employees and their drama, manufactured or real, bathroom requests every 10 minutes, dress code violations, or disappearing acts.  One thing that seems constant, regardless of the day, however, is my struggle to find my niche.  I am a recently divorced single mother of 3 teenagers, a Christian, a no-nonsense, no-drama Mama thrust into this environment that still, after 6 months, I find difficult to navigate on any given day.  I am paid by the hour, and luckily, so is my therapist.

Most recently I’ve found myself the ‘subject’ of a few complaints by my fellow supervisors – 3 to be exact – that my response to the employees is ‘too slow,’ basically implying that I stand around during my shift and let them do all the work.  I might be short and old, but I am a worker – that is absolutely something I have observed about my generation versus this one…the value of a work ethic and the lack of one.  I know what an honest day’s work looks like, and I also know what honesty is.  I don’t punch in and then put my things away; I don’t buy my food for break while I’m on the clock; I don’t wait by the timeclock for the hour to come to punch out; I punch in, work, punch out, go home…fairly simple.

So after these ‘complaints’ were brought to my attention, of course I was hurt…I am a human, too.  I get hurt when people don’t see the ‘real’ me – my heart – the person who though tough as nails, cries at commercials, and smiles at babies, and loves little old people and would give you every single thing I had…because you needed it.  I feel that is who Jesus wants me to be, and I try my best.

So the ‘hurt’ me decided that I was just not going to trust anyone at work anymore…that would show them, whomever they were. So I plugged along my day, not my normal jovial self…and the cashiers noticed.  The ones who cared asked what was wrong – I of course dismissed it as nothing and went about my newfound mission – do not get hurt again.  But instead, I started to get annoyed.  See, the cashiers are supposed to turn on their blinking lights when they need a supervisor, but many have gotten into this habit of yelling for me instead of using their light…and then there’s 2 yelling, then 3…then I’m losing it because I hear my name from every direction.

So I’m casually reminding them to use their lights and not to yell for me – this also gives the other supervisors – the ‘SUPER’ supervisors – the opportunity, to help them, instead of singling out me.  After all, I’m a slug, remember?

And this works for a little while…they stop yelling for me and start using their lights…but only for a little while.  And then as I”m standing on the front line, I hear my name again, but my attitude has changed.  They, the cashiers, aren’t calling me to make work for me.  They call my name because they count on me.   They call my name because they trust I can help them.  They aren’t calling another name – they are calling my name.  And I respond, and I meet their needs, and help their customers and things move along as they should.

And though I have no idea what the motivations of those 3 supervisors was when they complained to my manager, what their hope was to accomplish – they did not succeed in crushing me.  I was called by name – by my cashiers, and by my Savior…and until I am no longer called, I will be on the front line.  Count on it.

 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God…”    -Isaiah 43:2

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Two more wake ups, Baby Girl, and then…

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My oldest daughter graduates from high school this week, and the word ‘proud’ doesn’t begin to encompass all that I feel for her.  She has been going to school for the last 16 years, an adventure of epic proportion.

Absolutely nothing in her life has come easy, from her meager beginnings to each new ‘label’ she receives.  As challange upon challange is heaped atop her, my soul crushes a bit more from the weight she must bear, knowing full-well that in an instant I would trade places with her, shouldering the burden she has been hand chosen to face.

But instead I have tried my best to share my Strength, my Foundation, my Rock with her – and she knows Him well.  When she is sick, she asks me to ‘pray to Jesus’ to make her feel better; when she is imaginative, she asks me if she can ‘pray to Jesus’ to make her this character or that character when she dies; when someone is sad, she comforts them by telling them God will take care of them.  She knows who she is and where she’s headed – even though her goals don’t include a 4-year diploma – she’s certainly on scholarship to the Streets of Gold.

In recent years just getting my Baby to school has been all-consuming.  Some semesters she had more days absent than present – or present in body but not in mind.  We’d make a ‘deal’…5 days…5 days of school, then a surprise.  Whole semesters would tick away 5 days at a time.  Then it was ‘only 1 year left…’, ‘almost Christmas’, ‘4 months…’

And now here we are…2 more wake-ups, 2 more bus rides, 2 more sets of uniforms…and then what happens?

At dinner today, my Baby Girl reassured me as she was assuring herself that she will always be my Baby and live with me.  As long as she is healthy and happy, I am good with my Roommate for Life.

 

Faithless Fathers…and Forgiveness

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Today is Fathers Day – a day to celebrate the fathers in your life, whether it’s your Dad, your Father-in-law, your children’s father, your brother, a good friend who exemplifies fatherhood – today is all about Dads.

But for many, today is also about loss; a father that passed away this year that you’re missing especially in this moment; a parent you’re estranged from and can’t seem to understand why that relationship doesn’t right itself; longing for a dad that was never there, absent from your life for as long as you can remember, leaving a hole wider than the ocean and more painful than can ever be overcome.

It can also be a day of hurt; for relationships that weren’t quite right, father relationships that were so damaging and destructive that the scars, though not always visible, run so deep just the mere mention of that relationship, that person, that time, can send us into a tailspin that leaves us reeling for days, questioning our foundation yet again.

My relationship with my father was complicated at best.  I share my story freely in the hopes that if one person is helped by what they hear, one girl finds the courage to speak up, to break the cycle, no girl will ever have to endour my childhood and continuing adulthood.

I am convinced that my father was not a sexual predator…he had an illness.  I am also convinced that I was his only ‘victim.’  From the time I was 5 years old, continuing until just shy of my 18th birthday, my father had an incestuous relationship with me.  It was as complicated and as simple as that.  I could go into a million details of why I didn’t tell, if my Christian mother knew, now if I think my mother knew, how I felt, etc., but those points are not really relevant to my post today.

What is relevant is that after the ‘telling,’ after my non-believing father was outed, I had two very simple choices: to forgive or to not forgive.  This is the part that always seems to completely baffle people, mostly Christians, which in turn baffles me.

When we are wronged, no matter what the situation is: cut off in traffic, short-changed at the grocery store, lied to by our children, assaulted by a family member…we have the same two choices.  One, while in the short-run might make us feel better, as life progresses, can only lead to more pain and anguish.  The other, while seemingly more complicated in the beginning, leads to a life of peace, freedom and weightlessness not afforded by any other choice in life.  It is that simple.

While the issue of whether my mother knew or didn’t know will always remain a question because of her untimely passing, the best gift she ever gave me was my faith.  My faith is my rock on which I wake up each morning, regardless of how miserable the day before has been.  My faith is my constant, no matter how much ugliness this world heaves at me, and believe me, as of late the world has been working double time.  That only makes my resolve doubly strong.  This incredible blessing called faith my father did not experience during his living years, but just days prior to his dying, and for that I truly mourn his loss – his loss of the joy at knowing each day who he could rely on; his lonliness for the majority of his life without a constant companion by his side; and mostly years and years missed with a Father who loved him more than life itself who waited his whole life to hear him utter,”Come…”

I am often asked how I could possibly forgive the man who did such horrible things to me.  My answer is quick and painless:  How could I not?  My Father taught me well.

If you are hurting today, missing your father for any reason, I pray you call upon your Father…He’s waiting for your call.

 

My Hurting Heart

I wanted my first post to be something uplifting – something to glorify God…but I just don’t have it in me today.  Today is not a good day.

As I type this, my class, my friends, my juniors once again are gathering for an orientation into a program I should have graduated from a few months back, or been a year into, or been with them at today.  But I am home, alone, with my thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, failure and wondering of yet again where my life went so terribly wrong.

I was raised to love Jesus, to trust in Him for all things…and most of the time I do just that.  And then there are days like today, where nothing – absolutely nothing makes sense.  To say my life has been in a tailspin for the last 18 months would be the understatement of the century.  But as long as I had a purpose to hang on to, I was good.  Heck, it didn’t even have to make sense…God had a plan, and I was good with that.  My life has never been a bed of roses, and I certainly didn’t expect it to start now.  But the worldly attack, one after another after another of the past year and a half could leave the most steadfast in faith scratching their head.

It has been said of me by some that I am a rock – that I have no feelings.  To hear that about yourself is quite painful.  I have Godly strength my Father has given me to endure my life as it has unfolded, but I am also His child, longing for shelter and love in my times of weakness.  It reminds me of an old Twila Paris song “The Warrior is a Child” – ‘They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down.  They don’t know who lifts me up when no one is around. I drop my sword and cry for just a while. ‘Cuz deep inside this armour, this warrior is a child.’  We all crave belonging and love, no matter how much strength we muster when we are called upon.  I am certainly no different.

So today, as my ‘people’ move forward toward their new professional endeavor that God has clearly now told me I must release, my heart is hurting.  Even when we know the right answer, we hurt for what we have lost, perhaps for the greater good that we have yet to experience.  I know in my head that God’s plan is far greater than anything than I could imagine, but today…today my heart hurts in obedience.  I’m praying tomorrow will be a better day.